Tricky moving out scenario

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    Tricky moving out scenario

    Hi all,

    Got a potential problem you may be able to help me out with. I live in a a house with 3 others. Ive lived there for 14 months, the other girls Girl X and Y have lived there for 30 months and 6 months respectivily. Now the girl (X) who lived there the longest used to live with the landlord who moved abroad (18 months ago) and all rent went to him up on a monthly basis until 5 months ago when he starting using an agency (we then signed a 6 month shorthold ten. agreement). It transpired that shes been paying him the incorrect amount since he moved out (18 mths ago) and she owes him £2000 from when he was collecting rent and £1000 from when the agency took over the maintenence and we signed the SHT.
    I was unaware of this until we got a letter detailing this - it seems my housemate chose to ignore previous letters. I assume that Girl X is solely responsible for the £2000 as we were not in a contr4act at the time, and we three are responsible for the 1000 since we signed the joint tenancy agreement. Can anyone add advice / comments?

    Now the agency said she could pay back the arrears on a monthly basis by topping up her rent by 250 per month. However, to complicate things, we need our bathroom floor sorting out as its rotting and they say they will only fix it when the arrears have been cleared. Unfortunately it needs sorting out in the next few weeks as its in a bad way. Can they say they wont fix it. I only ask as if more damage is done in over the next few months is it our respsonsibilty or the agency's for not fixing it when we told them about the problem (over 2 months ag). To complicate things further im thinking about moving out next month when the tenancy runs out, can i move out with my housemate still owing 1000 as im in a joint tenacy agreement.
    P.S I havent given the agency a deposit as the LL seemed fine with us just carrying on paying monthl rent..
    Would really appreciate any advice.


    By SHT, do you mean an Assured Shorthold Tenancy for England/Wales or Short Assured tenancy in Scotland?

    There's nothing to stop you from leaving the property at the end of the tenancy agreement when there are rent arrears.

    A joint tenancy agreement is precisely that - tenants are jointly responsible for the rent and abiding by its terms. If you haven't signed a contract that makes you jointly responsible for rent, then you are not responsible for other tenants arrears.

    Landlords/agencies are required to complete their legal obligations in all respects (including repairs) even if there are rent arrears. Don't be blackmailed into this. I suggest you notify the agency that they deal with the arrears separately to repairs and that you are happy to call the Local Authority contact that deals with health and safety issues in private dwellings if they drag their feet.

    What is the cause of the rot on the bathroom floor?


      Its a SHT for England.

      We signed this in August for 6 months and £1000 of arrears haev been racked up since then..

      The bathroom floor rot is caused by the bath seal which is leaking - the floor appears to be disentigrating under the lino.... A guy came and looked at it from the agency and said that it needs repairing ASAP (in November), and then we heard nothing. It transpires that they didnt do anything about it due to the rent arrears. If i speak to them and remind them of their obligation to fix it, can they get nasty and threaten with eviction due to the arrears(even though I spoke to them and they are happy with the monthly overpayment of rent to pay back the arrears?

      In conclusion even though there are rent arrears (£1000) since signing the SHT, can I leave - the girl who owes the money is happy to stay for another 6 months? The agency is well aware that it is Girl X who owes them money and not myself or the other girl.


        Have you reported this repair in writing to the agency? (I'm just interested in the audit/evidence that you may have on that). Keep written records of any dealings that you have with the agency.

        Have you signed an inventory with the landlord or agency?

        Does the landlord hold any deposit at all from you (I know you said that the agency weren't given any)?

        "The agency is well aware that it is Girl X who owes them money and not myself or the other girl." If you signed the joint tenancy agreement which relate to her arrears you are jointly responsible for them. The landlord is perfectly entitled to take legal action to recover this from all the tenants though other posters on this forum will let you know if this is feasible or likely to succeed.

        Tenants cannot be held responsible for repairs that have not been caused by their negligence or by accident and I doubt that they can they be held responsible for further damage caused by the untimely nature of the agency/landlord in dealing with them (hopefully other posters can confirm or dispute this).

        Perhaps the other posters have an opinion on whether it is worth the tenant bringing to the attention of the landlord that the agency will not respond to requests to make simple repairs that are now damaging the fabric of the property? Or whether it wouldn't kill the tenants to have paid £2 for sealant and done this 5 minute job themselves (don't believe that they are required to do this, I'm just curious).


          From a legal point of view I think your responsibilities are defined by the AST you signed. It sounds as if the rent specified on the Agreement is incorrect, but surely the Agreement must have been signed by the landlord or his agent?

          The arithmetic is a bit hard to follow since the deficit seems to be £2000 for the 13 month period before the Agency took over (ie. about £150 pcm) and £1000 for the 5 months with the Agency (ie. £200 pcm). Why is the deficit per month, greater from when the Agency took over?

          You can walk out at the end of the tenancy in a months time. Since it is the end-date of your agreement, you don't have to give Notice, but because you are in a joint tenancy you should certainly inform ASAP, the landlord or his agent, as well as your room-mate.

          Regarding the deficit, you will have to think about what is fair and reasonable. If what you paid is too low by any reasonable standards and/or if your room-mate is honour bound to make up the deficit, then you may feel that you should pay your share of 15 months of deficit.


            Your second post came in while I was writing mine.

            Your first post gives the impression that the deficit is all girl X's fault in that (perhaps inadvertently) she paid the landlord too little and presumably charged her joint tenants (including yourself) too little.

            If I understand your second posting correctly, the AST may well be correctly written ie. have the correct rent specified, but you have allowed £1000 of arrears to accumulate anyway ie. you are jointly responsible for the arrears

            As a joint tenant you are certainly legally liable for some or all of this deficit.

            The end date of an AST is special in the sense that tenants can leave without giving Notice. However since this is a joint tenancy with arrears, I would give Notice to end the tenancy ASAP. This will limit your liability.


              I'm a bit baffled about the under payment by that tenant.

              Out of curiosity,how did it arise that she has managed to under-pay for the best part of a couple of years? Most landlords would serve notice on a poor paying tenant or refuse to renew when an agreement expires.

              Because the landlord should have been aware that she is unreliable, it's a shame that he has lumbered the other tenants with an AST that now makes them responsible for her long-term aversion to paying the full whack rather than an individual agreement where he'd have to deal directly with her to resolve the arrears.

              By my calculations (£3000 over 24 months), if I understand it correctly she has underpaid the sum of £125 per month for two entire years!

              No wonder you'd like to move out with another of the tenants!


                and how she is going to afford to pay an additional £250 per month. Does this actually represents a £375 increase on the sum that she's accustomed to paying (since she has routinely underpaid the correct sum by an average of £125 pcm) and must surely pay the correct sum going forward now?

                I don't know what the monthly rent is that she is supposed to truly pay but I bet the agency/landlord are being a bit optimistic about cooperation with or ability to pay this expected top-up.

                Or is my understanding and maths wrong on this?


                  If I were a tenant with agents that have:

                  - allowed a tenant to underpay for so long,
                  - tried to blackmail you buy not doing a repair they are obliged to do'
                  - said you are not responsible for the debt, in spite of you having a tenancy that says you are joint and severally liable;

                  I'd be getting out of there asap because they clearly don't know what they are doing and you'll be well off out of there before they try to burden you with a share of the debt.


                    Hi, (this is a different username to the one i posted since i dont have access to my password on my work computer)

                    OK this may help clear things up. The tenant solely responsible (not me) for underpaying knows the landlord and i believe it was a case of him trying to contact her from abroad (Saudi Arabia) in getting her to pay the arrears (£2000) and the fact that he seems quite well off and wasnt too bothered? It would seem he was having trouble putting pressure on her as a friend. Also girl X is notoriously bad at sorting stuff out - i think she was shoving her head in the sand. For the record I find it unacceptable and im really hacked off that she didnt sort it and neither of the above are valid excuses for not sorting this out sooner.

                    Reading between the lines this seems to be the reason that repayments never took got sorted out sooner to him, I assume thats why he got an agency to manage the property. Regarding the difference in monthly payments, this was because at the start of the SHT, girl X moved to a bigger room in the flat and her rent was higher.

                    With regard to the bath, none of us knew that it was the sealant that needed sorting out until we got the maintenence people through as the floor wasnt disentigrating near the bath and we thought it might be the loo that was cauusing it. The maintenace guy tried to fix the problem but I think there is another leak elsewhere so it wasnt really a simple fix to the leaking bath otherwise I would have tried to sort that.

                    From my point of view I dont have any responsibilty to pay back any of the 2000 as i was not in a tenancy agreement, part of the rent was accrued before i lived in the property, and Girl X was friendly (and used to live) with the LL - therefore its between them. However i recognise the amount that needs to paid back from the 1000 (accrued in the SHT) that she still owes and I am aware that I am jointly responsible for this. Replying to Beebers Q, her rent is 600, she is going to pay 250 extra until the arrears are cleared up. She has started to pay this this month (2 Jan) via standing order and the agency seem happy with this.

                    My main question is if i leave will they seek to track me down for the excess 1000 even if my housemate is paying back the arrears and they have agreed to this. By my calculation, she will have paid back the SHT arrears of 1000 by the 2 April, upon she will start paying back the arrears to the LL that she owes directly.

                    Also what kind of notice do i have to give?, SHT runs out on 2 Feb.

                    Thanks a lot...


                      Originally posted by bartoni78 View Post
                      My main question is if i leave will they seek to track me down for the excess 1000 even if my housemate is paying back the arrears and they have agreed to this. By my calculation, she will have paid back the SHT arrears of 1000 by the 2 April, upon she will start paying back the arrears to the LL that she owes directly.

                      Also what kind of notice do i have to give?, SHT runs out on 2 Feb.
                      Hopefully other posters on the forum will contribute to your final queries.

                      1/ I don't know whether it is worth the effort and expense in tracking down tenants for arrears of that sum - some landlords write off losses and put them down to experience if they don't believe legal action will have a satisfactory outcome. It may simply depend on how motivated your landlord is and he seems to have been a bit mellow about arrears in the past.

                      Other posters can clarify but I believe that even though an agency is managing the property, most contracts between them and landlords will make the landlord responsible for undertaking the legal action - debts belong to the landlord so it may not be 'they' that will track you down but 'him' if Tenant X defaults on paying back her individual and your joint arrears.

                      You could read up on the legal process to claim arrears - small claims court action, CCJs, attachment of earnings, etc, in case there is a worse case scenario and legal action is kicked off.

                      2/ If you are on a fixed term contract, there is no notice required to leave when it expires but as a courtesy, you should notify the agency/landlord that you do not intend to renew.

                      As Johnjw stated "You can walk out at the end of the tenancy...Since it is the end-date of your agreement, you don't have to give Notice, but because you are in a joint tenancy you should certainly inform ASAP, the landlord or his agent, as well as your room-mate. "

                      If you were on a periodic tenancy or other tenancy types, there may have been a requirement, according to the contract, to provide your landlord with notice but this isn't the case when a fixed term contract is scheduled to expire - neither the landlord or tenants would need to give notice but its quite wise to communicate an intention to leave or renew.

                      The only other thing for you to consider is the question of future landlords and agencies seeking tenant references as part of their tenant verification process - it's quite a standard request made by prospective landlords/agencies to contact your last landlord/agency. Since you are legally responsible for current arrears on the joint tenancy agreement, have you thought about the impact of a negative tenant reference or not being able to provide one as you seek new accommodation?


                        I'm sure if someone will correct me if I'm wrong, but I think you can just leave when your tenancy ends, ie 2nd Feb, without any notice.


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